Continued from Part 3
“You should have come to me sooner,” the elderly man dressed in tattered woolen robes scolded. He poked and prodded and pulled Orion’s arm in all directions while attempting to decide how badly it was damaged.
“That hurts, you know,” Orion cried out after several misplaced finger jabs sent a new spasm of pain shooting up his elbow.
“Of course it does!” The healer looked upon Orion as if he was completely mad, then proceeded to jam his fingers into the younger man’s sore flesh again. “You broke it quite thoroughly. I will need to prepare a potion of hornwort and secure the forearm with a splint. You won’t be able to use it properly for at least another month.”
Orion knew that this would be the prognosis, yet he could not help but be disappointed by it. As the haggard old wizard tottered off to his supply room to fetch the ingredients for the potion, Orion felt a twinge of defeat once more. He knew that a month in this little hamlet would be enough to drive him towards lunacy.
He resolved on the spot to do what he could to resume tracking the wind as soon as the sun rose the next morning. His arm had not helped him much the first time he encountered the wind, why should he need to use it now?
“Drink this twice a day for the pain and try not to fall again. You really should have come to me sooner, the swelling is quite out of control. No matter,” he said, tugging harshly on the strap he was using to secure the splint and causing Orion to howl in pain once more, “I suppose I will just have to tie the bindings tighter.”
With that, Orion paid the healer and was on his way. Determined not to let his injury slow him down, the young adventurer returned to The Blooming Heather to nail down his strategy. He would not allow the wind to overcome him a second time.
* * *
He awoke at the crack of dawn, awkwardly stuffing his few possessions into his canvas backpack with his one good hand. The pain in his broken arm had not diminished as he had expected, but rather had grown considerably. He had avoided the healer’s potion up until this point, worried that it would make him groggy, but now decided that he needed to focus on the journey ahead and not the throbbing in his arm. He took a small sip of the potion and grimaced as he swallowed the foul liquid.
As he closed the door to his room and moved down the staircase he was already thinking of his plan to capture the wind. While he was meditating the day before he remembered a crucial piece of advice he had received from his mentor near the beginning of his training, several years ago.
You cannot merely hold the wind in the palm of your hand, like a grain of sand. No, in order to hold the wind you must open your lungs, spread your arms and intone her beauty, as the red robin might do in spring.
Orion was beginning to think that he had discovered his error the previous time around. Up until now he had assumed that if he presented himself to the wind as someone of pure heart she would be convinced of his worth and allow him to make contact. But in so doing, Orion had exposed himself to all of the Elemental’s scrutiny and rendered himself naked under her piercing gaze.
He was beginning to realize that what he needed to do was to entrance the Elemental. Ensnare her with his charm and grace. Evoke the wind to come to him, by softly lulling her into a position of serenity. He needed to use the magic of charisma to draw her in to his embrace. Orion would sing to the wind and in this manner win her affections.
The minutes turned to hours as the road dwindled away to a small animal track. Orion turned to survey the progress he had made so far and could just barely see the small town nestled in the valley below. He was quite satisfied with the pace he was keeping and had almost forgotten about his broken arm.
He had yet to see many signs of the wind herself, but this did not trouble him too much. He knew that she was in the vicinity and he also knew that she preferred the crest of the mountain to its trough. He was nearing an altitude where she could be expected to appear just as the sun began to set. He would set up camp here, and resume his search in the morning at first light.
As Orion settled down into his tent and closed his eyes the throbbing in his arm began once more. He riffled through his canvas bag for the potion and took another swig of the rank concoction. Despite its vile taste, it did seem to help with the pain.
Just as the young man was beginning to drift off to sleep he noticed that his tent was swaying vigorously around his head. At first he thought nothing of it, but soon he began to worry that one of the spikes used to secure the tent had come out of the ground. It was true that he was fairly high up the side of the mountain, but the wind should not have been that strong. Soon the sides of the tent were whipping back and forth with such ferocity that he began to wonder if it would be ripped right off of the ground and hurled down the mountainside. Orion decided to investigate, and stuck his head outside the tent.
There she was, the raging wind Elemental, hovering outside the entrance to his tent. Her eyes glowing a deep emerald color, the wind opened her mouth and produced a sound that turned Orion’s stomach upside down. The Elemental had apparently tracked him down and had worked herself into a furious rage before the young adventurer had a chance to prepare himself.
There was no time to consider his next move, he needed to act. He already knew what he needed to do, so he quickly jumped from his tent and ripped open his flannel nightshirt, exposing his chest. He held his arms out wide, sucked in as big a breath as he could afford and began to sing a lullaby to the wind.
“As the stone skips o’er the water,
She believes her lover found.
Moving past the broken altar,
To the shelter underground.
“How the leaves betray the motion,
How the song betrays the sound,
She has lost her one devotion,
To the shelter underground.
Orion could see that it was beginning to work. The storm before him had at first thirsted for blood, but now it seemed as if she was listening, contemplating the sound. The wind still howled around his head and his tent still threatened to lift off the ground, but the look held in the eyes of the Elemental had softened.
“What the morning dew despises,
Where the mists have lain their crown,
Our dear daughter soon arises,
From the shelter underground.
Seemingly mesmerized by the sound, the Elemental began to creep towards Orion, ever so slightly. Her eyes began to glaze over and her lips parted as if to join in Orion’s sad lament. Not daring to stop now, he continued with his lullaby hoping only that his excitement would not show upon his face.
“Since the age of dreams found broken,
Since the dawn when he was drowned,
Slowly fall the tears unspoken,
To the shelter underground.
“As the breeze moves past our daughter,
She deceives that he’ll be found.
But he is lost under the water,
He is buried underground.
As Orion finished the last verse of his song he realized that the Elemental was within his grasp. The giant sapphire upon her brow shimmered in the moonlight as the maelstrom continued to howl around the unlikely pair. He knew that if he could just touch the sapphire, even if only for a moment, they would become fused to each other forever. He needed only to close the small gap left between them and he would conquer the wind and become a master of her mysteries.
Afraid to break the spell that his song had cast upon the wind, Orion hesitated for just long enough to see a teardrop roll down her shimmering cheek. Overcome with an overwhelming urge to comfort the beautiful creature before him, he moved his hand towards her ethereal face, reached out and wiped the tear from her skin.
“You are the one,” she whispered to him.
Orion was left stunned by the soft caress of the Elemental’s voice and did not know how to respond. Unable to think of anything else, he dropped down to his knees and bowed his head in reverence to the tempest before him. When he raised his head again he saw that the Elemental had removed her tiara and was holding it out to him.
As he reached out to take the precious jewel from her outstretched hands, he could not help but shed a tear himself. He had finally convinced the wind of his worth. He had bared his soul to her and offered her everything and in return she offered him her greatest gift. The gift of the wind.
Please take the time to comment on this piece if you enjoyed it. I am hoping to submit this short story to be included in an online Magazine and would like to use this blog to receive feedback on the style and substance of the narrative. Any constructive criticisms or editing comments will be appreciated and considered. Thanks in advance for your help with this!